When Richard Brumme of Annapolis, MD entered his blue 1950 Porsche 356 Cabriolet in a marque-organized contest to locate the earliest Porsche sale in America, he must have thought he was a shoe-in. After all, the exceedingly rare car was one of the first series-produced examples manufactured in Stuttgart following the company’s relocation from Gmund, Austria. To boot, the car is so impeccably restored with original and period-correct parts that it won the Best in Show and Best in Class awards at the 356 Registry’s annual gathering in Cleveland, Ohio earlier this year. Imagine Brumme’s surprise when he found out that the winning car was actually produced two years after his Cabriolet.
In celebration of its 60th anniversary of doing business in North America, Porsche announced a plan last August to find the earliest car sold in the United States, which the company would identify from submissions made by American owners. While Brumme’s Cabriolet was surprisingly rare and probably more valuable than the winning car, it was a 1952 356 Cabriolet owned by Dr. Robert Wilson of Oklahoma City, OK that won the search. Restored in Strawberry Red, Wilson’s car was imported in November of 1952 by Max Hoffman, the renowned auto impressario whose New York dealership cornered the early market on importing European sports cars. Carrying a 60 horsepower 1.5 liter engine, Wilson’s 356 had been lying in a deteriorated state in a scrap yard when the good doctor discovered the lost gem. Now its unlikely circuitous route to the edge of destruction and back has resulted in its recognition as a milestone car of unusual provenance.
Don’t worry too much about poor Brumme, though. His Cabriolet, which was apparently not sold in the States until after 1952 despite its earlier production date, has been selected by Porsche to be displayed at its booth during next month’s Los Angeles Auto Show.
Porsche’s search actually was subdivided by model, meaning that eleven different “winners” can claim to own the oldest model retailed in the U.S. Each will be honored with an exclusive badge issued by the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, and will additionally be featured in a “Sixty Years of Porsche in America” exhibit that opened on October 12.
Here is a list of the other winners and their respective cars:
1965 911: Barry August of Clarksville, Md.
1965 912: Steve Torkelsen of Wilton, Conn.
1970 914: Ralph Stoesser of Marco Island, Fla.
1977 924: Jay Hoover of New Haven, Ind.
1977 928: Jim Doerr of Richmond, Va.
1983 944: John Denning of Covington, Wash.
1992 968: Jeffrey Coe of Trumball, Conn.
1997 Boxster: David Adrian of Worcester, Mass.
2004 Cayenne: Adam Reichard of Magnolia, Texas
2005 Carrera GT: Robert Ingram of Durham, N.C.
2006 Cayman: Eugenie Thomas of Martinez, Calif.